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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03792

    Infestation of Lithodes santolla by Eremitione tuberculata: spatial and temporal variations in the parasite prevalence and effect on the host growth

    Julia Soledad Colombo*, Martín Varisco

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: The southern king crab (SKC) Lithodes santolla is a crustacean parasitised by the bopyrid Eremitione tuberculata. This study aimed to analyse spatial and temporal variations in E. tuberculata prevalence in the SKC juvenile population of San Jorge Gulf (SJG) and adjacent waters (Argentine Patagonia), and to evaluate the effects of the parasite on the SKC juveniles, to improve our understanding of its impact as disease on the SKC health condition. Moult increment and body weight were compared between parasitised and unparasitised individuals. The prevalence of E. tuberculata in SKC juveniles varied both spatially and temporally. In the south of SJG, the prevalence was 54.5% (n = 11). Temporal prevalence analysis revealed values lower than 17.4% in mid SJG during May and September 2015. No significant differences were observed in E. tuberculata prevalence between sexes or among seasons. E. tuberculata had a negative effect on SKC growth (lower body dry weight, moult increment, and relative increment rate) in parasitised individuals. We hypothesised that the higher prevalence of E. tuberculata in the south of SJG could be attributed to the retention of parasite larvae and the presence of the frontal system in this part of the gulf. The temporal variations could be reflecting host mortality. Our results suggest that bopyrid infestation may have a more important role than previously believed in the dynamics of the SKC population in mid-Patagonia.